Dear MMDs, If you watch your TV tomorrow, you will certainly get
images from everywhere in the world showing how every nation celebrates
the new year (millennium ?).
If you look closely at what will be happening in Paris, you will notice
on the famous Avenue des Champs Elysees about a dozen large fairground
Ferris wheels, the largest one (about 200 feet high, very impressive)
being on the Place de la Concorde. (Remember Leslie Caron dancing in
the night, near the lighted fountains?) The others will be all along
the avenue, with orchestras and dancers, usually very modern and noisy
(cf. Antheil's Ballet mecanique !).
The last one, near the Place de l'Etoile, is rather simple, but in
front of the wheel, facing the Arc de Triomphe, on a platform about 20
feet above the ground, has been placed an old yellow truck (a 1935
Citroen, I think) and on each side and of top of the cabin are fixed 42
large chromium-plated truck horns. And this impressive instrument is
managed through an 42 keys mechanical organ (from an Odin organ, I
think), and plays (thanks to compressed air) with books of music!
Claude Reboul, the player and proud owner (he calls it his
"mecanophone", a "mecano" being the man who repairs cars and trucks),
is a professional organ grinder. (He usually plays a more traditional
mechanical organ in front of our Museum of Modern Art, The Beaubourg
Centre Pompidou.) Tonight he was turning the handle for the rehearsal
of the great feast. He was standing in some kind of small open cabin
with a roof, just behind the truck driver's cabin.
I was able to listen to "Rock around the clock", "In the Mood", and
"the Fire Dance" of Manuel de Falla (which he announced on a microphone
as "the Spring, by Vivaldi"! (I supposed at this late hour he was
mixing the books of music...) A very noisy machine indeed, but playing
quite all right, with a good balance of the bass notes and the treble
notes, some books having been perforated, if I am not mistaken, by one
of our best noteurs in France, Pierre Charial.
It was cold and raining, but everybody was listening to that machine
with a large smile, as an exemplary mixture of a production by an
almost defunct XXth century, and announcing what could be mechanical
music in the XXIst century !
So this kind of "calliope" will certainly be seen and heard by millions
of people tomorrow, if they watch their TV, and if the men behind the
TV cameras do their job properly.
(Sorry, Robbie, I didn't have my camera, otherwise I could have sent
you a photo for the MMD web site, that you and Jody manage so well).
Best regards from Paris, and a very happy new year !